When two (or more) is not equal to one

An analysis of the changing nature of multiple and single jobholding in Europe

Wieteke Conen, University of Amsterdam

The changes that are taking place in today’s labour markets are accompanied by changing employment patterns and a hybridisation of work in many advanced economies. The rise of the gig economy and freelancing contribute to the demise of the standard employment relation (the permanent labour contract) and the rise of a wide range of non-standard employment relations, including flexible contracts, self-employment and hybrid work. This new organisation of work leads to a more flexible, insecure and fragmented nature of contemporary labour. Hybridisation of work in the context of our study refers to workers holding several dependent employment relationships at the same time, or combining dependent employment and self-employment activities. We analyse whether multiple jobholders (MJH) are more precarious as compared to single jobholders (SJH) in either dependent employment or self-employment.

On the one hand, it can be argued that changing product and labour markets, diffusion of information technology and participative management strategies – amongst others – have led to job enrichment and mutual improvements for both workers and employers (Handel, 2005; Greenan et al., 2013). This view is related to post-Fordist theory and mutual gain literature, arguing that new work systems have improved the quality of work, for instance in terms of intrinsic rewards (such as job challenge and autonomy), working conditions (such as decreased physical workload) and material rewards (such as wages). In contrast, the more critical Neo-Fordist view argues that any (limited) gains that may have accrued to workers are outweighed by increased effort requirements and insecurity. Recent changes in labour markets and work organizations have created greater work pressure and for many workers material conditions (such as pay and job security) have deteriorated (Handel, 2005; Kalleberg, 2009; Greenan et al., 2013). Previous historical-comparative studies show mixed results regarding various dimensions of the quality of work (e.g. Clark, 2005; Handel, 2005; Brown, 2008; Olsen, 2010), but rather consistent trends have been found in terms of a deterioration in the area of work intensity and physical and emotional strain (Clark, 2005; Brown, 2008; Greenan et al, 2013; Lopes et al, 2014) (for an overview, see Conen and De Beer, 2018).

In this study we focus on precariousness versus self-sufficiency of MJH as compared to SJH. Precarious employment has been defined, conceptualised and examined in several ways and encompasses various dimensions (cf. D’Amours and Crespo, 2004; Stone, 2006; Vosko, 2006; Kalleberg, 2011). In this study we focus on material conditions as reflected in the extrinsic dimension (such as pay) as well as non-pecuniary aspects. We study a) the structure and trends in terms of occurrence, working hours and quality of work among MJH and b) compare this to dependently employed and self-employed SJH. To that end, we analyse data from the EU Labour Force Survey (from year 2000 onwards on the structure and characteristics of MJH and SJH) and Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (from year 2005 onwards, including information on wages, household income, material deprivation and self-reported quality of work and life) at the personal, job and household level.

Keywords: Employment, extrinsic rewards, intrinsic rewards, moonlighting, multiple jobholding, quality of work